Colonel Dokisime Gnama Latta- An African Icon Takes A Bow

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In 2017, I was in Lome, Togo, for a meeting with the President of Togolese Union Of Travel And Tourism Agencies (UTAVOT) and our discussion veered to the very good safety record of the airline I was representing, one of the best on the continent. When I mentioned to the UTAVOT President that the airline is safe and would start flying to Togo, he retorted, that of course it had to be safe, otherwise Colonel Latta will not grant approval for it to fly to Togo.

Such was the degree of the confidence the industry in Togo, West Africa and Africa in general had of the towering figure of Colonel Gnama Dokisime Latta. To write a history of modern aviation in Togo and Africa will be highly incomplete without devoting portions to the revered Colonel Latta as he is fondly called. With his input, Togo was punching far above its geographical size in the sphere of civil aviation. It is not by coincidence that today Togo has the largest airline in West and Central Africa region by number of international destinations, ASKY; the Togolese President, His Excellency Faure Gnassingbe was appointed the Champion of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) by the African Union at the launch of the SAATM during the AU 30th Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2018 and Togo is the champion state of SAATM.

Colonel Latta raised the profile of the civil aviation industry in Togo. Appointed Director of Civil Aviation in 2002 and Director General of ANAC in 2007 his leadership saw Togo consistently improve on its score at ICAO Audits, moving from 26.5% to a score of 65.95% in 2007 and then in 2016 had a score of 85.77% which placed Togo first in Africa. Under Col Latta, Togo successful passed the Transportation Safety Administration of the United States (TSA) Audit with a satisfaction rate of 91.5% and currently Togo hosts direct flights to the United States of America.

At a time, he managed the airport company, Société Aéroportuaire de Lomé Tokoin (SALT) from 2017 to 2022 and the CAA as a mark of his huge profile in the industry. He flew the former president of Togo for 15 years and also served the country in the capacity of Minister of Security and Civil Protection. Under him, Lome rose to prominence as a regional hub with a modern and functional airport oiled by the growing services of ASKY which is in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines. Currently, ASKY flies to over 27 destinations in West & Central Africa, Johannesburg and the United States. Colonel Latta has trained several professionals in key areas of civil aviation

Serving Africa

Colonel Latta’s impact went beyond the shores of Togo into Africa where he played pivotal roles in improving safety on the African continent. He served alongside other African aviation giants like Mr. Christian Folly-Kossi, Mr. Jean-Kouassi Abonouan of Cote D’Ivoire, Mr. Tshepo Peege of South Africa, Mr. Meshesha Belyaneh of Ethiopia, Dr. O.B. Aliu of Nigeria and past President of ICAO, Dr.Kofi Henaku of Ghana and Mr. Hachim Koumare of the Economic Commission for Africa amongst others who worked for the liberalization of air transport and improvement of aviation safety in Africa. He served variously as the Second Vice President, First Vice President and ultimately President of the Regional Aviation Safety Group for Africa and Indian Ocean Region (RASG/AFI).  He was at various times the Vice President of African Civil Aviation Commission, AFCAC and President African and Malagasy Civil Aviation Commission (AMAC) in addition to services to ASECNA at the highest level.

Colonel Latta was at the forefront of promoting air transport liberalization in Africa through exemplary leadership “In Togo,” he says, “we encourage airlines to come in. We try to reduce taxes and provide visa on arrival at the airport.”. He supported the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Discission and worried that “some countries do not want to have full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision,” and therefore are not allowing the 5th Freedom rights to African airlines. “He is disturbed that lack of liberalization deprives African airlines the passenger and cargo traffic trapped in restricted markets in various States in Africa. With cost of airline operation remaining high, African airlines will continue to suffer losses if their load factors are not increased by granting these airlines free access to markets in all parts of the continent.”

For his services to his country and Africa, Colonel Latta has won several awards. He was decorated with the Knight of the Order of MONO; Officer of the Order of Merit; Officer of the Order of MONO; Commander of the Order of Merit; Commander of the Order of MONO; Officer of the Legion of Honor of the French Republic and Medal of ASECNA. In 2022, Col Latta was conferred with the Trophy of Panafrican 2022 for the best Aeronautical Manager in Africa.

It is apt to say that as Colonel Latta concluded an exciting 22-year tenure (Director of Civil Aviation of Togo from 2002 to 2007 and as Director General of Agence Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ANAC) from 2007 to 2024), he has laid the groundwork for the prosperity of the Togolese Civil Aviation industry and the future if well nurtured is very bright for that industry. For Africa, it is hoped that the continent would find outlets to tap into Colonel Latta’s wealth of knowledge and experience.

We wish this son of Africa good health in retirement and the very best in his future endeavours, for he left the stage when the ovation was loudest.

Latta served as DG of the Lome Airport Company (SALT) – 2017- 2022

ASKY Airlines was conceived during Latta’s tenure

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